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Ranch State and CitizenSpace: Digital Democracy and Web Strategies for the United States and the United Kingdom
Unformatted Document Text:  17 phone book for connections between public officials and citizens. There appears to be no automated forms associated with the site – or even a main page “feedback” e-mail address for citizens to comment on the site itself. Most of the service delivery categories offer e-mail addresses, for general inquiries, however subject specific or department-specific questions are routed through phone numbers (at best) and more typically to U.S. postal address. For example, the “Business Center” page offers access to a complicated page of access links that buries the services that the State Department offers to businesses in a third-party web page designed for Firstgov (which is the main Federal government site). In addition, The State Department mission statement page for business and commercial assistance is a poorly designed scrolling document with virtually no HTML graphic formatting. This should not be surprising, given the national and organizational contexts described earlier in the paper. Forum for Political Discussions: Despite earlier calls for the integration of a public forum or feedback capacity into the State Department website, no such functionality exists on the website. While there is a significant archive of subject-specific briefing papers on nearly 52 topics related to international affairs, there is no online access connecting other citizens or interest groups. Nor is there any indication that the site encourages this type of democratic activity. Given the layout and functionality of the website – it is clearly oriented towards an “output” model of website design that emphasizes information dissemination. At the same time, the site does not display any characteristics of emphasis towards public service delivery outside of the realm of information. In other words, the site does not possess the “entrepreneurial” focus described by Musso, Weare, and Hale, driven by a business-style mentality. If anything, the United States’ web presence and its official organization for foreign policy is geared towards organizational information and a topical index of government authored international issue briefs. The website is characteristic of a vertical, one-way access to information that is controlled centrally by the government.

Authors: Hayden, Craig.
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17
phone book for connections between public officials and citizens. There appears to be no
automated forms associated with the site – or even a main page “feedback” e-mail address for
citizens to comment on the site itself. Most of the service delivery categories offer e-mail
addresses, for general inquiries, however subject specific or department-specific questions are
routed through phone numbers (at best) and more typically to U.S. postal address. For example,
the “Business Center” page offers access to a complicated page of access links that buries the
services that the State Department offers to businesses in a third-party web page designed for
Firstgov (which is the main Federal government site). In addition, The State Department mission
statement page for business and commercial assistance is a poorly designed scrolling document
with virtually no HTML graphic formatting. This should not be surprising, given the national and
organizational contexts described earlier in the paper.
Forum for Political Discussions: Despite earlier calls for the integration of a public
forum or feedback capacity into the State Department website, no such functionality exists on the
website. While there is a significant archive of subject-specific briefing papers on nearly 52
topics related to international affairs, there is no online access connecting other citizens or interest
groups. Nor is there any indication that the site encourages this type of democratic activity.
Given the layout and functionality of the website – it is clearly oriented towards an
“output” model of website design that emphasizes information dissemination. At the same time,
the site does not display any characteristics of emphasis towards public service delivery outside
of the realm of information. In other words, the site does not possess the “entrepreneurial” focus
described by Musso, Weare, and Hale, driven by a business-style mentality. If anything, the
United States’ web presence and its official organization for foreign policy is geared towards
organizational information and a topical index of government authored international issue briefs.
The website is characteristic of a vertical, one-way access to information that is controlled
centrally by the government.


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